Columbus attorney Stephen Hyles has unseated Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner.
According to unofficial vote totals, Hyles had 61 percent of the vote to Turner's 39. Hyles finished with 42,600 votes to Turner's 27,058.
Hyles said he was grateful for the support.
"I intend to work hard to make sure the people who supported me are glad they did so," Hyles said. "I intend to work to earn the support of those who did not support me and hope to earn their support so they will support me the next time."By the time the results were final — after 1 a.m. — Turner had left his campaign headquarters and was unavailable for comment.
This was the first time that Turner has faced opposition since he was elected unopposed two decades ago.
Hyles, a defense attorney, was on Columbus Council from 1986-93. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1992, when Bobby Peters was elected for his first of two terms.
Hyles geared up his campaign to take advantage of early voting, and it appeared to pay off with a big advantage in the votes cast before Tuesday.
"There has been a paradigm shift in the election process," Hyles said. "Nov. 4 is no longer the election day. It is only the last day to vote."
Prior to the election, Turner admitted he was surprised that a challenge came from Hyles.
"There is no inference to suggest he is anything other than a good man," the judge said. "He is more civilized than I and deserves a court with a higher jurisdictional limit."
Turner has been in the news a number of times, most recently in April 2007 when he was accused of pointing a gun at another motorist. He was convicted of reckless driving, a charge that was reduced from pointing a pistol at another.
He was sentenced to 12 months on probation, fined $1,000, ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and required to attend an anger management class.
At the time, the police report stated that Turner said the gun was in its holster when he held it up. Today, he says he never pointed the gun at the other driver. He waved an empty holster, he said.
"I never brandished a gun," Turner said. "I did not even own the type of gun described."
In August 2002, Turner was in the middle of a pay dispute with Columbus Council. He was reluctant to issue a $625 fine to a California man for speeding, fearing that the money would likely be "wasted" in the hands of the city. That same morning, when a citizen complained about city inaction over a traffic signal, Turner turned up the volume by suggesting that setting off "a nuclear bomb atop the Government Center" might be the only way of getting Columbus councilors' attention.
He later apologized for the remarks that angered city officials.
In the aftermath, Turner's salary was raised from nearly $72,000 to almost $90,000. Today, the Municipal Court judge's job pays about $105,000 annually.
Both men ran a clean campaign. Hyles has steered away from making a campaign issue out of Turner's behavior, declining to mention it at any campaign forum, debate or function.